Toddler Meal: Healthy Ketchup

ketchup french fries
Ketchup, the wonder condiment, has saved many a toddler mom's sanity at dinnertime. If only it wasn't so high in sugar, particularly the extra yucky high fructose corn syrup kind. Today, mom blogger Ann-Marie Nichols, who writes about children's cooking and book activities at, comes through with a recipe for healthy homemade ketchup.


She's been a huge fan of ketchup ever since her formerly picky former toddler, Nathan (now 8), refused to eat hard food that wasn't drenched in the stuff.

"He'd gag and potentially vomit up anything that wasn't slimy, squishy or creamy," Nichols says of her son, who was born a preemie and was in the 10th percentile for weight as a toddler. "He refused to eat crackers, cereal and even cookies."

A therapist suggested dipping snacks in ketchup. Nichols started with thin pretzels, followed by all kinds of things. Today, Nathan is normal weight eats a variety of foods.

Nichols only wished she'd had this recipe for healthy, homemade ketchup back then. Of course, there's nothing wrong will pulling out the Heinz for moderate squirts. But this recipe contains carrot puree and no high fructose corn syrup, so you won't feel guilty about slathering toddler-size portions on everything your child refuses to eat.

Healthy Homemade Ketchup

(from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious)

You'll need:

1 (6-ounce) can of tomato puree

1/2 cup carrot puree*

1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp apple-cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp firmly packed light or dark brown sugar (optional)

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp chili powder, or to taste

Make it:

Carrot Puree

Prep: Peel a few carrots, trim the ends, and cut into three-inch chunks.

Cook: Steam for 10 to 12 minutes.

Puree: In a food processor or blender for about two minutes, with a few teaspoons of water if needed for a smoother texture.


1. Stir all the ingredients together in a big saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

2. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced by about half, 10-20 minutes.

3. Let cool before serving.

4. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days or freeze in ¼-cup amounts in zipper-lock snack bags for up to three months.

Tip: Use the ketchup, either by itself or added to plain yogurt, as a dip for crackers, pretzels, or veggie sticks.

Tip: Use it as a "paint" to decorate food. Use a veggie stick or plastic knife to paint the ketchup on to a piece of bread, a veggie burger, or a sliced cheese or deli meat -- either you or your toddler can do the painting. Nichols' 5-year-old daughter, Lucie, loves when she uses ketchup to make a smiley face on a slice of turkey bologna. Plus, kids are more likely to eat something that they helped make!

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